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Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Inflammation Relief

Mindfulness is a type of meditation where a person focuses their mind only on the present. The goal is to be aware of one’s thoughts and actions in the present, without judgment.

study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison points to mindfulness mediation being more effective at reducing inflammatory symptoms than other stress reducing activities that do not incorporate mindfulness.

The unique study was designed to control for other therapeutic approaches. Melissa Rosenkranz, assistant scientist and study’s lead author states, “The mindfulness-based approach to stress reduction may offer a lower-cost alternative or complement to standard treatment, and it can be practiced easily by patients in their own homes, whenever they need.”

Mindfulness meditation can also improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function.

References

  • news.wisc.edu/releases/17739

 


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De-Stress with Transcendental Meditation

Almost forty years ago Glenda Schneider traded her psychiatrist and tranquilizers for Transcendental Meditation (TM)—and never looked back.

Stressed from her difficult job as an art teacher on New York City’s Lower East Side and dealing with problems in her marriage, she realized she needed to make a change.

In 1974 she took the first step by learning Transcendental Meditation and within a couple of years she had not only gone on a month-long residency course but become a TM teacher herself.

In existence for thousands of years in India, Transcendental Meditation was brought to the world in the 1950s and 60s in large part by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Today over 5 million people have learned this unique state of restful alertness.

Unlike some types of meditation which ask practitioners to concentrate on something, the goal of Transcendental Meditation is to reach a state of “pure awareness” or “transcendence” using a specially designated individual mantra (sounds vibration).

The TM technique allows one’s mind to settle inward, beyond thought, to the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness—the innermost Self. In this state of restful alertness the brain functions with greater coherence and the body gains deep rest.

Most people meditate for two 20-minute sessions per day although Ms. Schneider has taken advanced classes and meditates longer.

Medical research indicates that there are physical as well as social benefits. These include everything from reduced blood pressure and heart rate to less narrowing of the arteries in the heart and brain in adults with high-risk hypertension, to reduce death rates.

Ms. Schneider feels more rested, alert, energetic and emotionally balanced after meditating. It improves her relationships with friends and family as stress has been reduced. She also feels freer to express her true nature.

The benefits of Transcendental Meditation don’t just stop at the individual level, however. After halting her teaching career to raise a family, Ms. Schneider and her husband eventually found themselves living at a Transcendental Meditation community in Iowa for several years.

With 1,800 to 2,000 other TM practitioners they meditated hours a day in a big dome for the purpose of creating world peace (a donor provided a stipend so they could fully focus on their meditation).

“Maharishi’s belief is that the more people who meditate, the more peace there will be,” says Ms. Schneider. “He said that the reason there’s all these wars and all these problems in the world is from stress and that meditation is the way to deal with this, not war. And so we meditated with the purpose of creating harmony.”

For anyone interested in learning more about Transcendental Meditation, Ms. Schneider recommends going to The Transcendental Meditation Program website at www.tm.org or calling 1-888-LEARN TM (1-888-532-7686).

Typically the process involves finding a TM center nearby to attend several informational lectures.

“It’s a really amazing technique,” says Ms. Schneider. “I am a true believer because of what it’s done for me in my life.You still have to live your life– we all came here to learn, for our purpose, and to accomplish our life’s mission. I would say that Transcendental Meditation is the high road to help you reach these goals.”

By Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart is an associate editor with WholesomeOne.

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Walking Meditation Calms the Mind While Keeping the Body Active

Walking offers a multitude of benefits. It can improve mood, lower blood pressure, help control weight and more. It also provides a form of meditation, especially for those who wish to calm their minds but don’t feel like sitting still.

Meditation calms the mind by giving it a rest from the constant chatter that occupies it during the day. Meditation encourages rest, rejuvenation and healing.

Walking is a simple and easy way to implement a meditation practice into an active life, according to Psychology Today.

Here are some steps on how to get started with walking meditation.

  • Allow your breath to to determine the pace in which you walk.  Do not try to breathe as quickly as you walk. It should be the other way around. Match each step with your breath. Walk slowly.
  • Watch your feet. Keep your eyes down and relaxed. Resist the urge to scan the area and get distracted.
  • Pick a place to get started where you can be comfortable and there will be few distractions.

 


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Guided Meditation for Migraines

Migraine headaches can be debilitating and cause significant pain for hours and up to days. They are often brought on from stress.

Meditation is one of the best forms of relaxation and stress management that is easily approached and reliable.

The following video from Mind Space offers an 8-minute guided meditation to help relieve the pain a migraine causes.

[themedy_media type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JURgpCsZyY”]

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Meditation to get to Sleep

People who have trouble getting to sleep often have difficulty relaxing. An ongoing series of mental and physical irritations prevent sleep from arriving – their mind races, their body is restless, and their breath is uneven.

Relaxation techniques specifically designed to soothe tight muscles, increase regular respiration and clear the mind are particularly useful to ward off insomnia.

Meditation is a relaxation technique that can help one find the way to dreamland. Guided visual meditation technique includes closing the eyes, thinking of a peaceful object or scene, visualizing its detail and taking calming breaths.

Bedtime Zen has created this holistic, natural guided meditation to help people fall asleep more quickly and regularly. YouTube comments include, “This is amazing! So relaxing. Didn’t think it would actually work but it sent me straight to sleep. Thank you.” The video combines background music and sounds, with a soothing voice that will gently guide you to sleep.

[themedy_media type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2qD_TAcz0E”]

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Meditation in American Schools

Studies have examined the effects of meditation using controlled trials in elementary and high schools and they have found a number of positive results.

Meditation in American Schools

This Meditation Education infographic was discovered on Edutopia.


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Jerry Seinfeld & Howard Stern Discuss Transcendental Meditation

Howard talks about how Transcendental Meditation saved his mom and has helped him greatly. And Jerry shares how he wish he had done TM when he was doing the Seinfeld show.

[themedy_media type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0h96G1WUO4″]

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Reasons Why You Don’t Meditate and 5 Ways to Overcome Them

Often when I suggest to my clients to find time for daily meditation, the response is: “No, I don’t have time for that” or “We don’t meditate in my religion” or “Meditation seems weird.” Fortunately I’ve gotten quite good at reading between the lines, because I’ve come to realize that more often than not, what the client is telling me is “I don’t know how.”

Preconceived notions about meditation:

Though Eastern philosophies are more prevalent and widely accepted in Western culture than possibly ever before, many Westerners still picture a Ghandi-like figure sitting in full lotus position, wearing nothing but a loincloth, and chanting “OMMMMMMMMM.” Familiar?

Another image might be that of a Buddhist monk wearing an orange toga-like garment, holding mala beads and chanting mantras over and over again in a temple full of other people, with the thick scent of incense wafting through the air.

While these images are certainly real–meditation has long been associated with Buddhism, Hinduism, yoga, and other Eastern religions and practices, but it’s done in the West too. The difference is that most Western religions use a different word to describe it: prayer. Think about it–are rosary beads really that different from mala beads? Is reciting prayers in a church or temple really that different from chanting mantras? Not really. []

Read the full article here

Written by Rachel of Holistically Haute


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Meditation for Migraines

Migraines, the most cyclical headache that affects people. With excruciating pain, sensitivity to light, shattering nausea, migraines can stop a person literally in their tracks. The triggers of a migraine can vary from stress to music, even a wrong twist of the body can bring one on. There is no known cure for migraines, but there are ways to provide symptom management beyond heavy medications and narcotics. One approach is meditation.

Meditation in its simplest form is considered to be a conscious state of mind. Giving one the power to focus their thoughts on their pain, confronting it, and ultimately being able to control it is the basic principle behind meditation for migraines. Emotionally, “owning” the pain gives the sufferers more opportunity to better understand their symptoms which empowers them to treat it effectively. This empowerment gives those with the condition more control over it, which leads to a healthier emotional outlook. While meditation is a therapy that approaches pain management from a mental stand point, there are some physical benefits to meditation.

Meditation is considered to be one of the best forms of relaxation that is easily approachable and reliable. Forming a meditation routine can help bring relaxation to those that suffer from the pain and discomfort from migraines. Relaxation can help eliminate some of the triggers that bring the painful headaches on. It can allow for less tension in the neck and jaw, shoulders, and upper back – common tension triggers for migraines. It can also create an overall relaxation of muscles, which can also provide symptom relief.

Meditation is an art form that in its most advanced forms can take years to master. However, in its simplest form and with proper breathing, simple meditation can help to alleviate migraine symptoms both emotionally and physically.

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How to Meditate – 3 Easy Techniques

While meditation can sometimes seem like a difficult feat, meditating can be as simple as watching the breath or observing one’s surroundings. Supplement your life with a daily meditation practice by following these helpful guidelines and techniques.

Notice thoughts: do not judge or avoid them

The most important element of meditation is this: simply notice your experience. We all have ideas bubbling in our minds throughout the day, so it’s completely normal for thoughts to come up. Simply observe or “watch” what is happening: become aware of any thoughts, emotions, stimuli, or sensations that come up, and do not judge them as “good” or “bad”. Similarly, do not try to control or avoid thoughts since this will only create inner tension and resistance.

Prepare yourself

Meditate in a comfortable, quiet, and spacious area where you feel safe. Sit on the floor cross-legged with a pillow underneath you to elevate your spine. If you are uncomfortable or have hip or knee pain, sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet on the floor. Set a timer and try to let go of any concerns as you begin your meditation session. Make sure to shut off any devices that may distract you.

Start simple and be consistent

When just beginning your meditation practice, start with shorter sessions—set a timer for five minutes each day and gradually add time when you feel ready. You can meditate for five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, or however long you like.

Be brief but consistent: you can meditate when you first wake up or before you go to bed, as this will help set a positive tone for the day and will help you experience a relaxing and deep sleep. If you prefer, meditate in the afternoon or during your lunch break to balance yourself in the middle of the day.

Meditation Techniques

Technique 1. Breathing – Lengthening the exhale

As natural as breathing is, it has been used as a powerful tool for thousands of years to calm anxiety and establish mental clarity. One simple breathing technique involves “following” the breath and extending each exhale slightly.

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Sitting in a comfortable position, inhale gently and steadily for four counts.
  • At the top of your inhale, hold your breath for three counts.
  • Then, as slowly and gently as possible, exhale for six counts.
  • Hold the breath out for a count of one to finish.
  • Repeat for at least five minutes

*Note: When your exhalation is slightly longer than your inhalation, your vagus nerve (which moves from the neck down through the diaphragm) signals your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in the body’s activities while comfortable and at rest. Similarly, the vagus nerve cues the brain to turn down the sympathetic nervous system, which functions as a way of stimulating body functions associated with stress and the fight-or-flight response.

Technique 2. Walking meditation

Walking meditation is a way to practice moving without a goal or intention,” says Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. It can be used to become aware of each step that we take, regardless of where we are, and it can be joined with the practice of mindful breathing as we walk through a space with our bodies and minds.

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Choose a place to begin your walking meditation and go there. Walking through a local park or forest can be therapeutic, and going for a walk around your neighborhood can work, too.
  • Set an intention to remain silent throughout your walk and to observe stimuli in a manner that is nonattached, observant, and calm.
  • Begin to take steps that are slow and relaxed. Observe your experience with awareness. Focus your attention on the feeling of walking and other parts of your environment like the colors, people, animals, sounds, and temperature. Notice the weather and the way the air feels around you.
  • As you move your body, pay attention to your inhalations and exhalations.

*Note: You can practice walking meditation individually or with other people. Tai Chi and Qigong are also types of moving meditation which you may be interested in.

Technique 3. Trataka meditation

In Trataka meditation, one focuses their attention on the flame of a candle or another object of interest. The technique is used to establish concentration and it creates stillness as the mind becomes focused on the flame. The benefits of Trataka meditation range from relaxation, to improved eyesight, to, activation of the third eye (pineal gland), and they can be felt by anyone.

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Light a candle and put it on a small table 3-4 feet in front of you.
  • Sit comfortably with the spine upright and the upper body relaxed. Any posture is fine; but try to refrain from moving for the duration of the practice.
  • Check to make sure that the flame is at the level of your eyes.
  • Close your eyes and take 4-5 deep breaths to relax.
  • Open your eyes and gaze at the flame without being distracted by thoughts or external disturbances. Keep your eyes open and do not blink, for as long as is comfortable. If thoughts come up, simply acknowledge them and get back to focusing on the flame and your breath.
  • Keep your vision steady on the flame rather than the candle or wick.
  • Continue to look at the flame until you cannot keep your eyes open anymore. Close your eyes.
  • When you close your eyes, you may visualize an after-image of the flame. Bring this image to the point between your eyebrows at the middle of the forehead, where your third eye is.
  • When the image begins to fade away completely, become aware of your breathing and begin to watch the flow of your breath for 7-8 breaths (If you cannot see the image of the flame, that’s okay. Simply continue with the exercise. With practice, the depth of your concentration will allow the after-image to become clearer).
  • Open your eyes and repeat the full routine 1-2 more times.

Conclusion

Meditating causes us to be less reactive, less automatic in our responses, and more intentional with our actions. There isn’t any specific result you need—you don’t have to be “enlightened” or reach some sort of nirvana—but hopefully you’ll feel more relaxed and grounded afterwards. While some meditation sessions are more successful than others, keep up a regular practice to improve concentration and grow in mental clarity. The purpose of meditation is to improve concentration and to become more comfortable with the present moment.

Written by Nicole Kagan

 



References:

  • Berzin, R. (2012, April 01). A simple breathing exercise to calm your mind & body.
    mindbodygreen.com/0-4386/A-Simple-Breathing-Exercise-to-Calm-Your-Mind-Body.html
  • Hanh, T. N. (2008). Mindful movements: Ten exercises for well-being. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
    life.gaiam.com/news-articles/how-be-more-mindful-just-breathing-and-walking
  • Trataka and the amazing benefits of candle gazing. (2013, November 02). in5d.com/benefits-of-candle-gazing-trataka.html
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Types of Meditation

Meditation strengthens the brain by improving focus, concentration and productivity. Other benefits are reduced stress, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

There are four primary types of meditation.

  • Zen frees the mind by sitting and focusing all attention on an object through many different seated positions and breathing techniques.
  • Mindfulness focuses on paying attention to one’s current state and truly focusing on the present moment.
  • Qigoing is usually practiced while standing and utilizes concentrated breathing, basic hand movements and physical exercises to calm the mind.
  • Mantra relies on the oral repetition of a sound, sentence, or series of words with positive personal significance.

 

Types of Meditation

This image was discovered on the Tumblr blog Back on Pointe

 


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The Health Benefits of Meditation

Found this excellent infographic on the health benefits of meditation produced by www.skinenergizer.com

 

The Health Benefits of Meditation